The Ramayana of Valmiki is considered to be the oldest epic of India. Unlike the Mahabharata
, the story of Rama has no historical foundation. Yet the poem has become an intrinsic part of Hindu life. The victory of Rama, symbolic of the good forces, over Ravana, symbolic of the evil forces, is still celebrated all over India during the dassera festival, held around October. The story of Rama has inspired may to write poems and scholarly treatises. A number of versions of the story are prevalent, not only in Sanskrit
, the language in which Valmiki wrote his Ramayana but also in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and other Indian languages. During the course of time, what was basically a straightforward adventurous story underwent trasformation. Sumali, a Rakshasa king, comes from the nether world to the world of men in search of a groom for his daughter, Kaikesi. He is impressed by the mighty Kubera, son of Vishrava. He argues that if his daughter were to marry Vishrava, she would have sons as mighty as Kubera. Kaikesi marries Vishrava, but is fated to beget Rakshasa children, the eldest of whom is Ravana. Urged by his ambitious mother, Ravana puts forward his claim to be the Lord of Lanka. Therafter follow a number of adventures, ultimately leading to the siege of Lanka by Rama. The story, as narrated here, is based on the Uttara Kanda of Valmiki's Ramayana.